A Guide to Interior Design in the Built Environment
In interior design, there is intention behind every decision. The way spaces are set up affects our daily routines—whether that’s at work or home. More so, the setup and functionality of a space will determine how we feel in terms of comfort, productivity and energy. With this in mind, it’s important to understand the power of space planning and interior design in a built environment.
Whether you’re relocating workspaces or just wanting a change in your current space, we’ll walk you through navigating design within built environments.
What are Built Environments?
Typically, we refer to physical spaces that have already been built as a “built environment”—meaning that from a design perspective, you have to work around certain aspects of a space that cannot be changed. Interior designers and space planners often work together to modify these environments to create a functional, productive space for organizations of all sizes. Let’s dig into exactly how you can transform built environments.
Ask the Hard Questions
Before you can start the space planning and design process of a built space, you need to think long and hard about what your goals are for the space. Specifically, you need to estimate your occupancy needs—especially if you work in a hybrid workplace. These are big-picture questions, and it may take some time to come up with your answers, however, you need to have an accurate understanding of what your occupancy will look like before you start rearranging the space.
First, you need to determine the following:
- What percentage of your workforce plans to work in the office?
- How many employees need to meet at the office at the same time?
- What do you predict your average occupancy versus peak occupancy will be during the week?
- Who will be able to work productively sharing or using common meeting areas?
- What in-person activities are most important to your company in the next year?
- Do you need to change the physical components of the space with mobile design elements?
After you gauge the occupancy needs of the space, you should gather feedback from your employees to assess their needs and preferences. Our proprietary Workplace Productivity Analysis® serves as a helpful tool for pinpointing the right workspace changes for you. This survey gives employees a protected voice to express how the space can be further optimized for engagement and productivity. Not only does the entire staff complete our survey with custom-designed questions, but we also hold a series of one-on-one meetings with department heads and stakeholders to understand budgetary and logistical concerns. Our consultants and designers pair survey results, stakeholder information and extensive industry knowledge to make our recommendations for you.
Designate Your Spaces
Once you have determined your needs, you will have a clear idea of how many people will be using the workspace and what they need to perform their best. This is where the space planning process begins. Essentially, this is the process of designing and organizing a physical space to suit a specific purpose, function and aesthetic. Space planning is a vital skill for interior designers that work with built environments. It’s important to note that different industries face different needs, challenges and opportunities when it comes to designing their workspace.
Proper space planning should encourage different scenarios of interaction—think formal meetings, collaborative work, asynchronous work, brainstorming sessions and social events. Some popular commercial design trends of the moment include versatility, like reservable office spaces and furniture that moves with you (like adjustable desks or furniture on wheels, or mobile wall dividers). Giving people the option to work in a reserved, private space can help minimize the anxiety of claiming a space for the day and promotes an organized schedule. Likewise, providing furniture that can transform to meet people’s needs gives them the option to work in different spaces and settings with ease.
The best thing you can do in space planning is to plan around how your team works and interacts together and provide multiple options for them. When you designate different areas of the workspace for certain activities, it allows employees to choose where, when and how they work depending on their tasks, preferences and schedules.
The Right Finishes Make All the Difference
The best part of the design process is when everything comes together to create the big picture you’ve envisioned. The finished selections are what make all the difference in a space. Finishes can include anything that’s fixed in the space, like lighting, flooring, paint, trim and space division systems.
When it comes to lighting, natural sunlight is typically the most preferred lighting. However, in a built environment, you can’t always expect to have optimal lighting as this depends on the placement and size of the building and windows. What you can do is swap out fluorescent lighting for softer warm-tone lighting. This will provide a more natural feel to your space—and save everyone the headaches that come from bright artificial light exposure!
One of the most important elements of design is choosing the right colors and tones for your finishes. Color has a powerful impact on how people feel in the space, so it’s important to set the right vibe. For example, warm colors are associated with energy, attention and motivation, while cool colors promote a relaxing peaceful space reminiscent of nature. If you aren’t sure about what colors to commit to, you can follow the basic principles of color theory to discover what colors align with your goal for the space.
The Bottom Line? Ditch the “One Size Fits All” Approach
Oftentimes, people don’t know where to start with design as it can be overwhelming. At Relocation Strategies, we cater to our client’s preferences to put together options that suit their needs. Whether you’re looking for a design that’s modern or more traditional, we will always accommodate based on what the client wants.
Trust the experts in the transformation of your space. Relocation Strategies has been helping organizations reimagine their workspaces for over 35 years! Of our clients surveyed, after our Workplace Productivity Analysis® was administered, employee engagement rose by 25%. Let’s chat more about how we can help you reimagine your workspace.